Dinesh D’Souza, the social commentator who shook up Hollywood with the $33 million earned by his Obama 2016 film, is back with Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.
The film is his response to constant Democratic attacks on Republicans as racist, greedy, and callous toward minority interests. Hillary’s America takes a two-by-four to the racist, greedy, and callous episodes in the Democratic party’s past. He then links this history to Hillary Clinton’s progressive values and to her tutelage under radical community organizer Saul Alinsky.
This isn’t just rhetorical overkill. Glenn Thrush reported this week in Politico on Obama’s agenda in the waning days of his presidency:
Obama’s ultimate goal in his final year has been strikingly ambitious, according to those I spoke with: not only blocking from office the birther who questioned his legitimacy as president, but preserving the Democratic Party’s hold over the presidency during an era of anti-establishment turbulence. Obama, always one to embrace a grand goal, talks in terms of creating “a 16-year era of progressive rule” to rival the achievements of Roosevelt-Truman and to reorient the country’s politics as a “Reagan of the left,” as one of his longtime White House advisers put it to me.
The film re-creates what he said he learned in federal “public housing.” He established a rapport with some of the thugs and con artists there and asked them how the gangs to which they belonged consolidated power. A fellow inmate named Rock told him that the con games the gangs practice involve promising people something for nothing, then cheating them while at the same time making them dependent on the gangs for protection. This eerily resembled the way the Democratic machines operated, D’Souza realized. But Democrats also had a broader ideological agenda: “What if the goal of the Democratic party is to steal the most valuable thing this world ever produced?” That would be the republic the Founding Fathers have handed down to us.
The film then shows D’Souza leaving his confinement and researching the history and methods of the Democratic party. In the film’s least convincing re-created scenes, he visits “Democratic Headquarters” and sneaks his way into a basement records room adorned by a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the openly racist president who was the founder of the Democratic party. While rummaging through the secrets of the records room, D’Souza learns that Jackson’s expulsion of the Indians to reservations in the 1830s was opposed by Republican congressman Davy Crockett; that northern Democrats were instrumental to slavery’s survival in the pre–Civil War era; that Democrats after the war voted against civil rights for blacks at the federal level; and that, after losing that fight, they managed to impose Jim Crow laws against blacks in the South.
D’Souza then shifts his research to the office of Carol Swain, a black law professor at Vanderbilt University, who is a scholar of Democratic-party history. Swain is soft-spoken but devastating in her recitation of the facts. “It’s a sordid story,” she told me at the Cleveland premiere of the film. “Democrats have long practiced plantation politics while blocking economic opportunity for minorities.” She tells the story of Ida B. Wells, a brave black journalist who fought lynchings and challenged President Woodrow Wilson in the White House over his racist resegregation of the federal work force. Wilson ignored her entreaties and proceeded to host a White House screening of D. W. Griffith’s infamous film Birth of a Nation.
‘Democrats have long practiced plantation politics while blocking economic opportunity for minorities.’
— Carol Swain
D’Souza then extensively interviews National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, asking him about the connections he has drawn — in his book Liberal Fascism and elsewhere — between the Democratic party, Wilson, and birth-control advocate and eugenicist Margaret Sanger (the film shows Hillary Clinton lavishly praising Sanger). Goldberg was at the movie’s premiere and noted that it will no doubt receive abundant criticism. “You get the most flak when you are over the target,” he told the audience, to great cheering.
The film then takes a rather abrupt turn from history to focus on Hillary Clinton. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he notes, were acolytes of the great left-wing “community organizer” Saul Alinsky. D’Souza is the first filmmaker to mine the rich material showing the radicalism of Alinksy, who was personally tutored by Al Capone’s deputies in the tactics of the mob and whose most famous book, Rules for Radicals, begins with this epigraph to the most famous Machiavellian:
Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.
In Hillary’s America, the young Rodham is shown as she’s led from her roots as a “Goldwater Girl” into campus radicalism through meetings with Alinsky. Later, she would use her senior thesis at Wellesley to paint an admiring portrait of Alinsky. In a meeting with Alinsky, she chastises him for trying to pressure the establishment only from the outside, saying that some of his followers need to take over the government: “Then we can push from the inside.” But Hillary’s success on the “inside” seems to have brought her and her Clinton Foundation tens of millions in personal wealth rather than any substantive policy accomplishments.
The film then plunges into what it calls the more troubling aspects of the “Clinton partnership,” portraying Bill Clinton as a sexual predator surrounded by women in black dresses slinking out of cars and hotels. The real red meat comes as Hillary is portrayed as throwing things around the White House and generally enabling Bill’s behavior, which possibly includes rape. D’Souza ends his roasting of Hillary by denouncing her for her “hateful rhetoric” and labeling the Clintons “depraved crooks” who will “turn all of America into a plantation” if they get back in the White House.
At this point the film is definitely downbeat, but in ends with a stirring rendition of patriotic songs, beautiful shots of patriotic themes, and an original song from the Gatlin Brothers. The audience that streamed out of the Cleveland premiere felt energized rather than depressed by the film. Bob Unruh, a relative of the legendary California Democratic boss Jesse Unruh, told me: “The movie told it like it is. Machine rule is at the heart of the modern Democrats.” Several viewers said they took away the message that America is worth saving, and that we have the tools to do so in our DNA, if only we have a large voter turnout in November.The intensely anti-PC message of Hillary’s America obviously means it will be savaged by critics and ignored by much of the news media. Peter Sobczynski, a film critic writing at Roger Ebert’s site said that it “may well be the single dumbest documentary that I have ever seen in my life — nearly two hours of poisonous bluster and anti-historical rhetoric.”
Of course, Sobczynski doesn’t like the film’s politics, and they certainly aren’t weak tea. Parts of Hillary’s America verge on demagoguery. But the dictionary definition of demagoguery describes it as the methods used to “appeal to popular desires and prejudices.” Hillary’s America won’t change long-settled opinions about Hillary, but it will probably raise doubts in the minds of independent voters who see it. As for the base of conservative Americans, the movie will inspire them to get to the polls in November, despite the flaws of Donald Trump.
— John Fund is NRO’s national-affairs correspondent.